Spare bedrooms

How many bedrooms do you have? From April 2013, the amount of Housing Benefit paid may be reduced if you have more bedrooms than you need.

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How will the rules affect you?

This could affect you:

if you are 16 to 61 years old

even if you only get a small amount of housing benefit – for example, if you are working

even if you are sick or disabled

You won’t be affected if:

you live in a one bedroom flat or bedsit, or if

you or your partner receive pension credits.

Are you seen to have too many bedrooms?

If you have more bedrooms than you need, the maximum Housing Benefit you can receive will be reduced by:

14% if you have one extra bedroom

25% if you have two or more extra bedrooms.

You will be expected to pay the extra amount yourself.

Use the calculator on the Citizens Advice Bureau website to find out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. They also offer useful help and advice for those who are affected.

What is allowed under the new rules?

Some examples:

one bedroom will be allowed for a couple or a single adult

two children of different sexes aged under 10 will be expected to share a bedroom

two children of the same sex aged under 16 will be expected to share a bedroom

Ben and Rachel are a couple living in a two-bedroom property. They have no children. They used to receive housing benefit to cover all of their £75 per week rent. From April 2013 this changed. Now, the maximum housing benefit they can receive is £64.50. Their housing benefit is reduced by 14% because they are seen to have one spare bedroom. They have to pay £10.50 per week themselves.

John and Sue are a couple living in a three-bedroom property. They have no children. Their rent is £85.00 per week. From April 2013, the amount that they have to pay themselves is £21.25 per week. Their housing benefit is reduced by 25% because they are seen to have two spare bedrooms.

Mr and Mrs Smith live in a two-bedroom flat costing £70 per week in rent. Housing benefit used to cover the full cost of their rent. Under the new rules they have one spare bedroom. Their housing benefit is reduced by 14% of their rent (14% of £70 = £9.80) Their housing benefit is reduced by £9.80 to £60.20 per week. They now have to pay £9.80 per week towards their rent.

Mr and Mrs Bell live with their two teenage boys, aged 13 and 15, in a three bedroom house. Their rent is £100 per week and they used to receive £10 per week in housing benefit. Under the new rules their children are expected to share a bedroom and so they are seen to have one spare. Their housing benefit is reduced by 14% of £100 (£14), so they have lost all their housing benefit.

Marjory is 87. She lives alone in a two-bedroom property. She is not affected by the changes as she is of pensionable age. Those of pensionable age are not be affected by these changes. A pension age calculator is available here www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension